GOP-led House OKs bill preemptively banning vaccine passports, sponsor says it’s ‘not an absurd idea’

By: - June 2, 2021 5:27 pm

Sign at a city of Lansing building, June 1, 2021 | Susan J. Demas

A bill to prohibit vaccine passports in Michigan — which are not being considered in any part of the state — cleared the state House on Wednesday and will now head to the Senate.

The idea behind House Bill 4667, sponsored by state Rep. Sue Allor (R-Wolverine) and exclusively co-sponsored by Republicans, is to preemptively ban governmental entities from “discriminating” against non-vaccinated individuals. A committee hearing last month included testimony from several people pushing conspiracy theories.

However, neither Gov. Gretchen Whitmer nor any local governments in Michigan are currently considering the idea. President Joe Biden has also not proposed a vaccine passport system.

But Allor argued on the House floor Wednesday that the Whitmer administration’s specific wording — that it is not “currently” considering the possibility — makes an even stronger case for the necessity of HB 4667.

“Telling us that vaccine passports are not currently being explored doesn’t do much to build confidence that this isn’t something the administration will not explore, maybe in a week, maybe a month or even a year from now,” Allor said.

Allor also alleged without evidence that vaccine passports could potentially be used to limit “individual civil and political rights, privileges and capacities.” Her bill would make it illegal for governments to impose fines, fees or penalties based on vaccination status.

“This is not an absurd idea, nor a faraway issue,” Allor said. “It’s being debated across our country and the world. We need to make our stance known. The control of one’s life based on his or her vaccination status is frightening.”

Democrats are largely opposed to the idea of banning vaccine passports, with some using social media to mock Republicans’ efforts to ban something that doesn’t exist, like Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills).

“Instead of worrying about phantom bills that don’t exist, this body should be focusing on bringing home all the federal COVID dollars due Michigan,” said state Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo).

“The longer we delay action, the more Michigan families are put at risk of being homeless. Our schools are losing out as we put strings on the federal school aid, and our roads and bridges continue to crumble as we say no to Washington’s resources to fix our infrastructure. The more we delay, the more we risk losing the $3.7 billion in federal aid still left in Washington that will likely go to other states instead of Michiganders,” Rogers continued.

HB 4667 passed 62-47. Just four Democrats — state Reps. Kevin Coleman (D-Westland), Tullio Liberati (D-Allen Park), Tim Sneller (D-Burton) and Richard Steeland (D-Roseville) — voted in favor of the bill. It will now head to the Senate for the committee process.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).